I attempted to duplicate the Dolcini Dessert at the Olive Garden called Dark Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Mousse and Caramel Cream.(closest dessert on the right side)
Not too easy. Not really. I used 4 different recipes to re-create the dessert. It is very tasty but tedious. I probably won't make it again just because it takes so much work but I will say it was worth it.
Step One: Make the dark chocolate cake.
I used the hot fudge layer cake recipe from Fine Cooking. I've made this recipe before and the cake comes out moist and delicious. I used a very large 9x13 pan. In retrospect I would probably should have cooked it in two pans because it gets very thick. At least 3-4 inches high. Making little torts would be easier if you have a flatter cake.
Here is the recipe Hot Chocolate Layer Cake
Step Two: Cut out the hot chocolate cake.
I used a circle cookie cutter that was probably 2 inches in diameter and put the cake in a small tumbler like an oversized shot glass. This dessert is very rich so you don't need a huge container for it. p.s. Make sure the cake is cool to the touch or it will fall a part when you cut the cake in circles.
I just cut out a section of the cake, put a spatula underneath the part I cut out (so it wouldn't fall a part) and then placed it in one of these plastic glasses and squished it down some because it was quite deep.
Step 3: Make Chocolate Mousse
I think chocolate mousse can be quite difficult to make because if you over mix it at any point it can start to separate. So you have to be careful with this portion of the dessert.
Melt the chocolate. Do this slowly otherwise it will turn into a gummy/pasty mess and won't be edible. I mean slowly. Use a double-boiler. The water under the top pan should be barely simmering. So on the lowest temperature. I like to get start with about an inch of water in the bottom pan, turn it on medium to get it close to boiling then turn it down to low and then melt the chocolate. That works for me.
You have to whip the heck out of the egg whites and the cream and then fold them in gently with a spatula. Using a machine is too much so use a spatula, it reminds you to do it slowly and gently. So beat the egg whites until they are fluffy and stiff and do the same with the whipped cream. Whipping them gives the mousse it's airy texture.
When you fold them in separately with the melted chocolate it will look nasty but keep going slowly eventually it'll blend together and look heavenly.
Before you top the cake with the chocolate mousse make sure it is completely cool. If it isn't it could make your mousse separate.
Step 4: Make your Caramel cream frosting
You do this step next because the recipe I made calls for the frosting to cool and stiffen up a little in the fridge which is good because you do not want liquid frosting.
This makes a delicious caramel cream cheese frosting. I didn't think the recipe called for enough frosting so I added a couple cups of powdered sugar to the mix until I thought there was enough frosting. I don't think it hurt the recipe...it made it a tad bit sweeter which is good. You can also add a small amount of vanilla extract if you like. That will give it a bit more flavor too.
Also I don't have vanilla beans handy so I just used vanilla extract. 1/2 tsp. for a 1/2 a bean.
Don't be afraid to beat this frosting for awhile. Extra beating won't hurt it. In fact it makes it creamier and you don't get as much sugary texture.
Step 5: Make the caramel sauce.
This was difficult for me because this is like making candy and I don't do that much. So I would suggest having a thermometer so you can check the temp instead of going by color.
Also, This was more like a sauce not a cream so in the future I am going to look for more of a cream than a sauce. Or thicken this recipe some.
Note: You have to let this cool down completely or if you put it on your dish hot it will melt it and it'll turn into a big soupy mess. LOL So cool this overnight with your frosting.
Step 6: Put together
Put the caramel sauce on top of the mousse. Doesn't that look creamy and delectable? I think so.
Just use a spoon and swirl it on. I made sure to cover the mousse as completely as I could so that in every bite I got some of this caramel.
Then I piped on the cream cheese frosting. (I just used a regular piping bag and cut a hole in the end. I didn't use a tip or anything, didn't need to get that fancy) I actually put it in the mixer first to loosen it up because it had been sitting in the fridge all night. I would recommend that. It makes it easier to spread and it warms it up enough so it's at a creamy consistency that makes it easier to eat.
Here it is! You can garnish it with chocolate swirls if you like. I chose not to. It gives it a bit of a crunchy texture on top so I might next time. Doesn't that look good. Layers of choclate and caramel. ooohhh....Tasty. Very rich and very tasty.